Whether you're nervous about committing to a year-long program or are looking to fill your summer with a meaningful opportunity, teaching abroad for a short-term is a great option. Not only is teaching abroad is a chance to expand your experience, strengthen your resume, and help others, but it's also an exciting way to immerse yourself in the culture of a foreign country. Most short-term programs range from just a week to a few months. In the end, you'll be able to teach, travel, and live overseas while still being able to come back to your job or to continue your studies in the fall.
Picking the right program can take time and effort, but doing your due diligence beforehand will go a long way in determining what kind of teaching experience you’ll have. So, grab a pencil and paper, and let’s get started!
With 1.5 billion English speakers in the world, it's one of the most commonly used and most desired languages to learn. Due to this high demand, many short-term teaching programs focus on English rather than math, science, or another subject. This is not to say they are not out there, but those teaching gigs might be harder to find. Since most short-term teaching jobs are focused on English language education, here are the most common job types you'll come across during your research:
Around the world, foreign language summer camps are becoming increasingly popular. During the summer months, many students will head to sleep away camps, where the primary activity is to learn English. Popular in Europe, these English language camps are a great way for teachers to earn a bit of pay, spend time in beautiful countryside locations, and help a range of kids practice their skills. Additionally, most camps do not require their teachers to have official certification; most are looking for college students or graduates, who have some experience with children.
Teaching English as a volunteer is ideal for travelers looking to dip their feet in teaching, but who are only able to commit for a few weeks or so. While a short-term volunteer program won't be able to provide a stipend, they usually provide lodging and food. Many programs work with orphanages or children’s centers in countries where there is a lack of attention on English education.
It's common for contracted teachers to leave language schools in the middle of a semester or term. Schools will then look for English teachers to work for a short duration before the next semester, often looking for native-speaking travelers who wish to live in one location for a short period of time. Depending on the course and school, employers may be looking for applicants with previous teaching experience or a teaching certification like TEFL. However, it's helpful to uncover jobs with these kinds of language schools while in the same country. This allows you to go in for an interview and, oftentimes, receive the job offer on the spot!
Tips for Choosing a Short-Term Teaching Program
After you’ve chosen a location, it’s time to weigh your options as a short-term teacher. Before you sign a contract or enter into a verbal agreement, make sure you have the following information from the institution or individual you’ll be working for:
- Do you need any special teaching certification, and what is the duration of the program? Is it fixed or flexible? What are possible start dates?
- Confirm your earlier research on price, salary, and what expenses, if any, are included (such as living arrangements, food, etc.).
- What are the expected hours per week and class load? What ages will you be teaching? Do you prefer to teach children or adults? Which subjects? Are you expected to work on the weekends?
- What is the visa situation in your desired destination? Do you need to apply for a work visa? In most cases, the employer will help you arrange a visa if you ask, or at least give you helpful information, as they’ve done this all before. The U.S. Department of State is also quite a helpful for visa information.
Where Do You Want to Go and Why?
While teaching abroad is a worthwhile experience with plenty to offer the individual, it’s important to consider what is most meaningful to you. What do you hope to get out of it? Consider which of these popular locations most closely fits your goals…or come up with your own!
Helping others Are you interested in becoming involved in underserved communities? If your main reason for teaching abroad is helping others, you may want to consider a short-term volunteer program. Most are unpaid positions, but the organization may work with a certain population or in certain locations you're looking to help.
Learning Something Unique Sure, you’re going to be a teacher, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a student at the same time. Maybe you’ve always dreamed of learning Spanish or crafting the perfect linguini dish. If your main focus is to learn something new, there is no shortage of places to live and teach. Ideally, you want to be in a place steeped in culture, and probably within close reach of lots of other exciting things to see and places to travel. What do you want to learn? Where’s the most obvious place to learn it?
Escaping the Routine If you’re looking for something new and exciting, you'll want to teach somewhere that is as far away from your daily routine as you can imagine, and you’re probably interested in some beautiful scenery along the way. Look for places and short-term programs that will challenge you.
Keep in mind that the best time to apply to short-term jobs is a month or two before you'd like to start. If you're looking to work at a summer camp, apply in the late spring. If you're looking to teach over your winter break, apply in the fall.
Short-term Teaching Fees & Pay Rates
It's good to keep in mind the kind of fees involved in short-term teaching opportunities. First, if you're going overseas you will have to pay for your airfare and any transportation to and from your desired location. Some summer camps or volunteer organizations may have fees for their applications or for participation in their program as well.
Most volunteer teaching jobs are unpaid. However, many of these programs provide housing, meals, and other enriching activities in exchange for your time. Summer camp teaching jobs are usually aimed at college students or graduates and provide compensation in the form of hands-on experience and visa sponsorships. This is common in Europe, where it might be hard to get a visa to work in the EU otherwise.
Short-term teaching jobs at a language school are the most likely to provide a set hourly rate, which will vary depending on the country.
The Next Steps
You’re packed and ready to go. Now all that’s left is doing your job. Here are a couple of hints for making lesson plans, which will guide you and your students for the entirety of your stay. While it’s best to have a daily lesson plan, doing them a week in advance helps you stay flexible and adjust to the pace of the class.
- Know your age range Think about what their learning level is. What and how you teach should be vastly different for beginners English in elementary school and advanced English in a college setting.
- Set goals. Decide what you can accomplish in one lesson. How long is the class? What is the one main idea you would like to pass on for the day? In addition, how long are you planning to stay? Can you accomplish your goals during your short term teaching term?
- Create activities. Think of a warm-up, main lesson, and a wrap-up. Include what you will assign as homework, so you can tell if they soaked up all the information.
- Prepare materials. Make a list of everything you’ll need for the activities, whether it’s games, slides, computer programs, or chalk. Get creative to keep your class involved!
Contributed by Blair Lampe
Short-term Teaching Programs
How long are short-term teach abroad programs?You can find almost any kind of time-frame you're looking for, ranging from one week to 10 days to a few months. Programs that are considered short-term are usually those that last less than six months.
How can I get a summer job abroad?If you're looking for a meaningful and fun job to fill your summer, consider teaching English abroad. As one of the most popular summer opportunities, English language camps are a great way to meet new people, get teaching experience, and travel to a new location.
What qualifications do you need for a short-term teaching job?
While you usually need a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate (like a TEFL) to be a full-time English teacher abroad, many short-term teaching jobs have fewer requirements. Most importantly you need to be a native English speaker. Some programs may also require proof of university or college attendance.
When is the best time to apply for a short-term job teaching English?
The best time to apply to a short-term teaching job is a month or two before your desired start date. This will give you time to complete your application, get your visa situated, and your transportation to and from your program location. For example, you should apply in the late spring if you'd like to work at a summer language camp or in the fall if you want to teach over the winter break.